Is our perception of Schizophrenia totally wrong?
Believe it or not, I have always been somewhat jealous of those with Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is defined as having 5 main symptoms, but these symptoms do not make sense to me.
These are false beliefs that are not based on reality. For example, you think that you’re being harmed or harassed; certain gestures or comments are directed at you; you have exceptional ability or fame; another person is in love with you; or a major catastrophe is about to occur. Delusions occur in most people with schizophrenia.
These usually involve seeing or hearing things that don’t exist, yet for the person with schizophrenia, they have the full force and impact of a normal experience. Hallucinations can be in any of the senses, but hearing voices is the most common hallucination.
Disorganized thinking (speech).
Disorganized thinking is inferred from disorganized speech. Effective communication can be impaired, and answers to questions may be partially or completely unrelated. Rarely, speech may include putting together meaningless words that can’t be understood, sometimes known as word salad.
Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behaviour.
This may show in different ways from childlike silliness to unpredictable agitation. Behaviour isn’t focused on a goal, so it’s hard to do tasks. Behaviour can include resistance to instructions, inappropriate or bizarre posture, a complete lack of response, or useless and excessive movement.
This refers to reduced or lack of ability to function normally. For example, the person may neglect personal hygiene or appear to lack emotion (doesn’t make eye contact, doesn’t change facial expressions or speaks in a monotone). Also, the person may lose interest in everyday activities, social withdrawal or lacking in the ability to experience pleasure.
All these symptoms are to do with “abnormality”, but abnormal according to whom? People diagnosed with schizophrenia are labelled as crazy because their way of understanding and perceiving the world is different to ours.
They see and hear things that we don’t, they perceive themselves to be greater than others and that they have exceptional talents, they can sense impending doom.
Are Schizophrenics wrong?
How do we know they are wrong, and we are right? Can we deny that they do have an exceptional ability? The ability to hallucinate… It comes down to the age-old question of what is abnormal? And why is it bad to be abnormal?
Is it abnormal to fear a catastrophe when catastrophes happen daily? Should it really be considered an abnormal or irrational fear? Is it irrational or paranoid to think that someone is out to get you or that people are harming or harassing you, when people frequently do things of a harmful or harassing nature?
Everyone’s perception of harm and harassment is different, and so is it fair to label someone as abnormal just because they feel harassed and it causes them psychological damage if someone coughs too loudly? Would you not just consider this a hyper-sensitivity of emotions and senses?
Should this inability to deal with the pain caused by a hyper-stimulated brain be correlated with the persons sanity and be considered an illness?
Whilst hallucinations can of course be scary, if the person is aware that it’s a hallucination (however real it may seem), then this hallucination can be managed and accepted… These hallucinations can even be positive.
Hallucinations are something that the most people do not experience whilst sober. This means that Schizophrenics have a “sense” or have access to a part of the brain that is left unused by the average sober brain.
Schizophrenics have incredible brains that do things that the average person’s brain cannot do, and this is the reason why I have always been somewhat jealous of Schizophrenics.
Drugs and Schizophrenia
People recreationally use hallucinogenic drugs which mimic the effects of Schizophrenia because the hallucinations, both auditory and visual, can have a profound effect on people’s lives.
One view is that hallucinations and visions, as well as dreams, are our brains way of giving us a message. It is an incredibly descriptive visual or auditory message from the brain, and once these hallucinations can be recognised as not part of the world as seen by others, they can be welcomed as one of the weird and wonderful capabilities of the brain.
Society tells Schizophrenics that they are crazy, that they need to be controlled, that their delusions are not real. Schizophrenics were historically locked away in asylums and persecuted, just because their senses and their brains worked differently to the general population.
By no means am I downplaying the negative aspects of life with Schizophrenia – life with any brain that is different to the societal norm presents its challenges, and for some people their symptoms are so strong that their brains simply cannot cope with all the information.
People should wear the label ‘Schizophrenic’ with pride. Anyone that lives their life trying to be a good person despite their problems should be proud.
To read another post about Aphantasia – the inability to form mental images click here.